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I remember having to make cardboard shoes in 3D design class in college, but Mike Leavitt really takes the notion to town. From the show description:

The Seattle artist accurately replicates in cardboard a nostalgic footlocker of shoes, from ladies pumps to 1980’s sneakers. Installed like a thrift shop, the cardboard shoes will be interspersed with Leavitt’s famous action figures, trading cards, Barack Obama pieces, woodcarvings, velvet paintings, and other small collectibles. Leavitt also includes his “Homeless Executive House”, a cardboard sleeping unit with a miniature scale facade of the New York Stock Exchange. Traditionally distasteful and modest objects consciously designed for commerce become appropriate in the art world.

Mike Leavitt participates in an art movement that is fast maturing – a melting together of designer toys, hand-made prints, tattoo parlors, skate shops, street art, and hand-made kitsch that is consuming the art market from the bottom, up. Between high art and a crumbling economy, Leavitt has found a common ground of inexpensive but technical works keenly tailored for broad appeal. Inspirations from woodshop, kitchen craft, and figurative representation energize his shoe replications. In his work, a cheap, disposable material comprises an expensive product, similar to the manufacture of boutique footwear. His cardboard shoes suggest commercial viability is now an urgent reality.

“Don’t Stop Object Shopping: The Cardboard Shoe Show” by Mike Leavitt
Fuse Gallery, 93 2nd Ave (btw 5th and 6th Sts, F to 2nd Ave)
March 21 (opening reception 7-10pm) through April 18, 2009

2 thoughts on “Cardboard Shoe Show in NYC

  1. In the beginning of XX Century (and likely earlier too), cardboard shoes were quite common. Lacquered, shiny top, cardboard sole, very fashionable look, very affordable price, zero durability. Not that whoever wore them would be going anywhere: they were used as burial clothes, on poor people. Many families couldn’t afford decent real shoes for their deceased relatives (or didn’t want to…) so people were buried in good-looking but functionally useless clothes made especially for that purpose. (suits with back made of sack cloth were in use too)

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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